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Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) cv Whitney was tested for iron bioavailabilty using an in vitro human intestinal cell culture ferritin bioassay technique previously developed. Spinach was cultured in a growth chamber for 33 days, harvested, and freeze-dried. Total iron in the samples was an average of 71 g/g dry weight. Spinach was digested in vitro (pepsin and 0.1 M HCl followed by pancreatin and 0.1 M NaHCO3) with and without the addition of supplemental ascorbic acid. Caco-2 cell cultures were used to determine iron bioavailability from the spinach mixtures. Production of the iron-binding protein ferritin in the Caco-2 cells showed the supplemental ascorbic acid doubled bioavailability of iron from spinach. The data show fresh spinach is a poor source of iron, and emphasize the importance of evaluation of whole meals rather than single food items. The data support the usefulness of the in vitro/Caco-2 cell ferritin bioassay model for prescreening of space flight diets for bioavailable iron.
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Keywords: Ascorbic acid; Bioavailability; Caco-2 cells; Ferritin; Iron; Spinach

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: *Controlled Environment Agriculture Program, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 2: †United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Station, U.S. Federal Plant, Soil, and Nutrition Laboratory, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853 3: ‡Controlled Environment Agriculture Program, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 4: §Department of Nutritional Science, 122 Savage Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 5: ¶Plant Biomass Production, Advanced Life Support, NASA, J.F. Kennedy Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Habitation, International Journal for Human Support Research, is designed to meet the needs of an emerging field of study necessitated by the need to develop new technologies to support human activities within controlled environments.
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